Blowhard, Esq. writes:
I watched FIFTY SHADES DARKER and JOHN WICK 2 over the weekend, neither of which were very good movies, yet both are partially redeemed by the performances of Dakota Johnson and Keanu Reeves respectively. After watching them back-to-back, I couldn’t help but notice a glaring hypocrisy regarding the general response to these movies. I’ve noted before how many have taken the 50 Shades franchise to task for, supposedly the “romanticization of abuse.” Women will watch these movies in which stalking, emotional abuse, physical abuse, pumpkin spice lattes, and other bad things are glorified, the argument goes, thereby falling prey to the same evils in their real lives.
Yet I don’t hear much from progressives criticizing the fetishization of guns in the John Wick movies. To be fair, there have been a few, but what I’ve heard mainly from movie fans is how badass the series is. These same people in the next breath denounce gun violence and call for strict gun control, thereby demonstrating that most people are perfectly capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. If John Wick fans can enjoy gun violence in movies without committing gun violence in real life, then maybe Fifty Shades fans can enjoy sex violence without subjecting themselves to sex violence in real life. (This is assuming that the acts in Fifty Shades are abusive, which I don’t concede they are, but let’s grant it for the sake of argument.)
- Via Box Office Mojo I learned that FIFTY SHADES DARKER had a bigger opening weekend and grossed more overall than both JOHN WICK 2 and BABY DRIVER.
The difference in movies is the same as in real life. Violence is bad, full stop. Sex is good, full stop. It’s easy to say, “Don’t shoot someone with a gun.” Pretty clear cut. Not so easy to say, “Have sex, but only consensually, but it’s sometimes fun to play with consent, as long as both parties consent to playing with consent, and sometimes a little obsession/possession is hot, until it isn’t and goes straight to abusive, etc etc…
It’s why rape is so horrible and worse than just getting beaten up. Getting beaten up is always bad, but sex is supposed to be good, and rape destroys that.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy sexy flicks, I just don’t think it’s as simple as you suggest.
More succinctly (I hope), gun violence doesn’t ruin violence for the victim, because violence is bad and something to be avoided in the first place, and so most people will not, after watching a violent flick, run out and try to mimic what they saw on screen. Sexual violence often ruins sex for the victim, and since sex is good and something that almost everyone does, it’s highly more likely that some people will try to mimic some of the sketchy behavior shown on screen.
Again, I like sexy movies! Just making a point.
But violence isn’t bad full stop. Sometimes certain people deserve to be beaten up. Some people are bullies, some people are out of control, and violence is the only thing they’ll respond to.
Besides, I’m talking about adults being able to handle fantasies in art while acting differently in real life. 99% of adults are perfectly capable of separating the two. Have we seen any kind of real increase in domestic violence in the wake of the 50 Shades phenom? If not, then maybe those books and movies aren’t any sort of problem.
If you’re arguing that art does not influence culture and/or behavior, then I disagree with you. If art can uplift and inspire us, if a song or band in high school “changed my life” or “saved me,” then art can also influence us negatively.
Also, bullies aside, we try to avoid violence, while we try (our damndest!) to engage in sex. The two have very different cultural expectations, acceptance and frequency of occurrence.
And again, for the most part, I agree, those books and movies are not a problem. But I also think they do have some affect.
I am not arguing that art doesn’t influence culture and/or behavior. And saying art influences behavior or has some effect aren’t particularly helpful insights. I’m sure nearly everything we do has some “influence” or “effect” on us. So what? That’s not the end of the analysis, that’s merely the beginning. How big an effect? How lasting an effect? Is the effect mitigated by other effects? Does it effect everyone the same? To the extent the effect is sufficiently negative (however we’re decided to define “negative”), can we do anything about it? Should we do anything about it? Etc., etc.
I hear your points and I don’t think we’re really disagreeing that much. Always appreciate you dropping by to share your POV!
I agree we mostly agree. 🙂 My main gripe was with your equivalence of onscreen gun violence with onscreen sex (or sexual violence). They’re not the same thing and I believe it’s perfectly logical, not hypocritical, to treat them differently, for the reasons I described.
I feel like Keanu Reeves is living proof that being awesome in movies has zero to do with “acting ability”…though, in fairness, Reeves is actually great when he’s allowed to step out of leading men roles and do comedy (Bill/Ted, Freaked, The Thumbsucker). I liked Wick 2, in spite of its repetitive action scenes, the most hilariously cringy heavy metal band in cinema history and its hero supposedly being a master assassin whosechief method of killing people seems to be simply walking into a crowded room and shooting at them.
50 Shades.. haven’t seen it. But the fact that there’s sex on theater screens again seems like a step in the right direction.
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